Realpolitik: The Energy Triangle As Game Changer For The Eastern Mediterranean

August 14, 2013

<img alt><img source="pic.gif" alt="Energy triangle"</img>

The potential “third energy corridor” – the Greece-Cyprus-Israel energy triangle may be the winner of the European energy game.”Third Energy Corridor” into the EU, a development of certainly wider geo-economic proportions.The gas could be a geopolitical game changer especially for Israel as well for the wider region (meaning the Balkans, the Middle East and especially the Eastern Mediterranean).

The Energy Triangle refers to the joint natural gas extraction between Cyprus, Israel and Greece that is estimated to begin in 2015. Officials from all three countries have agreed to the establishment of a gas pipeline from the Aphrodite gas field and the Leviathan gas field to a liquefied natural gas plant in the Vasilikos Power Station by 2019. (Note: here is not referred EU’s energy policy triangle ”emissions-supply-affordability”). So for the Energy Triangle and the EU there is now three projects of common interest: the first is the connection of an electricity cable between the three countries, the second is the feasibility of a pipeline from the East Mediterranean to Europe via Greece and the third one is the gas storage pipeline that will enhance the strategic resources of Cyprus, Israel and other European countries such as Greece.

Russia is the key player – even a game changer – in this triangle too. Future production in the eastern Mediterranean would be too marginal to offset Russia’s dominant market position. Nevertheless, the state-owned gas monopoly Gazprom is seeking a financial stake in the development of local resources. Israel and Cyprus see Russia as a source of both technical expertise and potential political support. Russia has repeatedly affirmed Cyprus’ right to explore offshore deposits in its exclusive economic zone.

Moscow won’t jeopardize its new deeply strategic energy partnership with its Israeli-Greek Cypriot ‘Western’ partners – in particular, its burgeoning relationship with the Middle East’s coming energy superpower, Israel. It is not only energy but geopolitics as Russia’s actions might cause selling out of Russia’s backing for both Iran and Syria for a Stake in Israeli Gas.

<img source="pic.gif" alt="Map credit: Gazprom"</img>

Map credit: Gazprom

Gazprom has also revealed that the company still has plans to link Greece with South Stream. This implies that the Russian strategy is to use Greece as a potential LNG hub, supplied by South Stream. South Stream, as far as its geostrategic role is concerned, is one of the most important projects in Balkans since WWII. Especially Serbia can be the heart of energy transport in the Balkans but also two branches will be built – to Republika Srpska and Croatia. In addition the Serbian side has proposed the construction of branches to Kosovo and Montenegro and Macedonia has also expressed the wish to get a branch of the pipeline from Serbia. On the other side the competitive project, the Nabucco pipeline, is already practically dead. More about background of Nabucco/South Stream battle in my articles Is it time to bury Nabucco? and EU’s big choice – Nabucco or South Stream?

The new opportunity with energy gives also some new political leverage to Israel. There has been a bit uncertainty how Israel will formulate its export policy. Israel’s options for selling the gas include Europe, China or even India. In terms of development, a partnership with Cyprus tying in its gas fields and co-operating on building sub sea gas pipes makes sense. And Greece has proposed becoming a distribution hub for eastern Mediterranean gas throughout Europe. Just how Israel’s vast reserves are to be monetized is yet to be seen. However in the few years since the state’s changeover from oil to gas-powered electricity generating plants Israel is already believed to have saved around $5 billion in revenue.

The new Gulf

<img source="https://i2.wp.com/www.yalibnan.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/oilgas-lebanon-israel-400x452.jpg" alt="Levantine basin gas and oil."</img>

Source: Noble Energy

The U.S. Geological Survey says the Levant Basin, encompassing Syria, Lebanon. Cyprus, Israel and the Gaza Strip, contains 123 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas and 1.7 billion barrels of oil.

In 2009 and 2010, a pair of U.S.-Israeli consortiumsexploring the seabed near Haifa discovered the Tamar and Leviathan fields, which collectively hold an estimated 26 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas. Israel has also worked to expand political, military, and economic cooperation with other local stakeholders, particularly Cyprus. But even at a combined total of 25 Tcf, worth some 200 billion euros at today’s prices, Tamar and Leviathan only represent around a fifth of the estimated gas in the Levantine Basin, much of which falls within Israeli jurisdiction. Anyway only this is enough gas to supply Israel’s needs for 150 years.

Since Cyprus signed a maritime border agreement with Israel in 2010, it has become the second main beneficiary of the gas boom. The island straddles Israel’s most likely gas export route to European markets. Cyprus also lays claim to its own gas deposits. The Aphrodite field, which is next to Leviathan, may contain up to seven tcf of natural gas — enough to meet Greek Cypriot domestic consumption needs for decades to come. Yet even that field is contested by others. The breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus claims co-ownership of the island’s natural resources.

On the borders of energy triangle one should not forget Syria, which is in the middle of two important energy corridors: It links Turkey and the Caspian See to Israel and the Red Sea and it links Iraq to the Mediterranean. Syria’s civil war is preventing seismic soundings in its waters but there’s every reason to assume they contain similar-sized gas fields.The Eastern Mediterranean gas fields might be the reason the Kremlin has created a military foothold in Syria for the Russian Federation. Moreover, it has been Iran that has agreed to explore and help develop these natural gas fields off the Levantine coast for Beirut and Damascus. Before civil war Syria was seeking foreign investment for three offshore oil and gas concessions. If the present regime in Syria falls the question is who would control these energy routes. If western powers are taking more firm grip from Syria it would also mean that the large natural gas fields off the Lebanese and Syrian coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean would be out of reach for China and instead go to the E.U., Israel, and Washington.

Also Lebanon, whose waters border both those of Israel and Cyprus, is expected to start issuing tenders to international companies to explore its maritime exclusive economic zone.

To its south, Israel has a difficult relationship with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) over natural gas, and has been obstructive to the PA’s own natural gas exploitation opportunities. Gas was discovered in 2000 by BG in waters that would include Gaza’s EEZ. However, political difficulties made it impossible to tap and transport the gas – not only is the PA not a member of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and hence has not declared its EEZ, but Israel occupied the Gaza Strip until 2005 and holds de facto control over the waters off Gaza’s coast.

<img source="https://i0.wp.com/farm8.static.flickr.com/7135/7017081555_dc08f6c09b.jpg" alt="Levantine basin gas and oil."</img>

Levantine basin gas

Earlier Egypt’s natural gas sector has expanded rapidly, with production quadrupling between 1998 and 2011. Egypt’s proven gas reserves were estimated at 2.2 tcm in 2011, representing the third-largest reserves in Africa after Nigeria and Algeria. In 2010, Egypt produced roughly 61.3 bcm of natural gas, of which 45.1 bcm was consumed domestically. In 2010, Egypt exported 15.1 bcm of natural gas (of which 9.71 bcm was via LNG and 5.46 bcm via pipeline). Egypt’s proven crude oil and condensate reserves are estimated at 4.5 billion barrels. The recent unrest in Egypt and the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi is again giving the energy markets jitters reminiscent of the uprising in 2011 that ended Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rein. Then, as now, most attention is focused on oil markets and possible disruptions of tanker trade through the Suez Canal. But with increased worldwide attention focused on liquefied natural gas (LNG) trade, it’s important to note that about 13-14% of global LNG trade passes through the Suez Canal. Since 2011 Egypt has suffered from gas shortages and has already halted gas exports to Israel and shut down one of its two LNG plants — the SEGAS LNG plant at Damietta — because of a lack of feedstock.


With a newfound focus on maritime security, eastern Mediterranean states are also keen to modernise their navies and coastguards. Israel, for example, announced in July 2012 that it would spend $800 million on acquiring four offshore patrol vessels to protect its platforms and enforce maritime security. Turkey, meanwhile, has a number of naval procurement projects, including 16 Tuzla-class patrol craft for the navy and four Dost-class offshore patrol vessels for the coastguard. The most substantial Turkish procurement is for a $1.7 billion landing helicopter dock, the navy’s first amphibious assault vessel.

Two other claimants, Greece and Cyprus, are hamstrung in procurement efforts by lack of funds. Inspired by the gas finds, however, Nicosia finally gave the go-ahead for the procurement of two offshore patrol vessels in January, with a likely budget of $150m (although it is unclear how the country’s financial crisis will affect this programme). Greece, meanwhile, with a defence budget constrained by a political decision to stick with the purchase of six submarines from Germany, has resorted to unusual deals to bolster its Mediterranean presence. In February, Athens sought to lease two frigates and four maritime patrol aircraft from the French navy to better patrol the eastern Mediterranean.

Volume of gas fields

US firm Noble Energy and Delek Energy, a domestic company, discovered gas off the country’s coast in 1999. The Mari-B field, which began production in 2004, contained about 1 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas but is now severely depleted and likely to run dry within two years. Other nearby fields, such as Noa and Pinnacles, are now connected to the Mari-B platform and began production in June 2012 – they are thought to hold a further 1.2tcf of gas.

<img source="https://i1.wp.com/mercury.ethz.ch/serviceengine/Files/ISN/468x351/165677/iresourcemultiple_files/45eab09d-1c3e-4ec0-978c-476f756a2363/en/Gas-Claims-in-the-Eastern-Mediterranean468x351.jpg" alt="Levantine basin: Exclusive economic zones (EEZ)."</img>

Source: IISS

The first well, Leviathan 1, was first drilled to a depth of 5,170 metres where the deposit found was estimated to contain 16 trillion cubic feet (450 billion cubic metres) of natural gas. The second stage of drilling of the Leviathan 1 well was intended to reach a depth of 7,200 metres where the estimated natural gas reserve is an extra 9 trillion cubic feet (250 billion cubic metres) and potentially 600 million barrels of oil.

The Tamar field is considered to have proven reserves of 200 billion cubic metres (7.1 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas and is estimated to contain an extra 80 BCM of probable natural gas reserves. In a related development, natural gas from the offshore Tamar gas field near Haifa started flowing last April 2013.Tamar produces a gross 636 million cubic feet of gas a day.

Karish is Israel’s latest offshore gas discovery northwest of Haifa and the fifth field to contain over 1 tcf of gas. Noble Energy announced on the 22nd of May 2013 the discovery of the Karish well, in the Alon C license approximately 20 miles northeast of the Tamar field, in 5,700 feet of water.

Beyond Israel, the most active country in gas exploration has been Cyprus. Nicosia was eager to negotiate its Exclusive economic zone (EEZ) boundary with Israel (having already done so with Egypt in 2003), and reached an agreement in December 2010. A year later, the real Aphrodite field (Block 12) was discovered in Cypriot waters, just 35km west of the Leviathan field. The estimated reserves of up to 8 tcf would more than cover Cyprus’s entire energy needs for 200 years.

More about topic in Outlook for Oil and Gas in Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Countriesby Manfred Hafner, Simone Tagliapietra and El Habib El Elandaloussi, MEDPRO 10/2012

Transfer of gas

The Israeli energy minister Uzi Landau announced that his country has established a high level commission that actively examines the prospects for transfer of gas. To date, the following options have been proposed:

  • Transfer gas to Israel for the purposes of electricity production
  • Creation of LNG stations in Cyprus and Israel to supply the world market
  • Creation of a floating LNG station close to the gas fields
  • Creation of a pipeline connecting the fields with Greece and from there on to the EU via Italy
  • Use the gas production for electricity generation and creation of a high voltage cable to connect Israel-Cyprus-Greece who will consume the electricity. it would mean that Israel could export energy to Europe, and in times of crisis could fall back on European electricity. it would mean that Israel could export energy to Europe, and in times of crisis could fall back on European electricity.

(Source: Natural Gas Europe )

It should be pointed out that any transfer of gas to Europe from developments in the eastern Mediterranean would take upwards of a decade to begin, once investment decisions were taken. In one other point of view, a dynamic triangle between Greece-Cyprus-Israel could be treated as an efficient geo-political counterweight to Turkey.

March. 8, 2013 a new deal by Russia’s Gazprom to market Israeli liquefied natural gas shows that Moscow is again emerging as a player in the strategic region. The 20-year LNG contract between Gazprom subsidiary Gazprom Marketing and Trading Switzerland and Levant LNG Marketing Corp. also provides a major boost for Russia’s drive to rebuild its Cold War influence in the Middle East that collapsed with the demise of the Soviet Union.This is an important milestone for strengthening Gazprom’s position in the global LNG market ( Source: UPI)

Already on end of June 2013 Cyprus inked a deal with a US-Israeli partnership to build a liquefied natural gas plant on the island to exploit untapped energy riches. Building a multi-billion euro LNG plant is seen as the biggest infrastructure investment project in the island’s history.

Early August 2013 Greece, Cyprus and Israel signed a memorandum of mutual understanding to cooperate in energy and water resources. The delegations from all three countries voiced their support for the EuroAsia Interconnector project that plans to link the electricity grids of all three countries via an underwater cable that is also going to hook up with the Paneuropean Electricity Grid. The 2,000-mega-watt EuroAsia Interconnector could potentially allow for the export of electricity generated in the eastern Mediterranean to the EU energy market through the trans-European electricity networks; it is also seen an important reason for stability in the eastern Mediterranean.

Conclusion

The term “Energy Triangle” was first issued at the Cyprus-Israel Business Association in Nicosia, Cyprus in 2010. Due to the joint establishment of the Exclusive economic zone (EEZ) between Cyprus and Israel, this marked the beginning of an increasing collaboration between the two Mediterranean neighbors. Both countries agreed to a joint extraction of natural gas by the American company Noble Energy in order to cut the financial burden of extraction by both countries. Shortly after the exchange of representatives between Israel and Cyprus, the Gaza flotilla raid occurred in 2010, thus destroying the Israeli-Turkish relations and pushing Israel towards a closer alliance with Greece. Since 2011 Greece joined Israel and Cyprus in the plan to export natural gas to Europe by 2015 through a power plant close to Limassol.

The discovery of natural gas is a huge strategic opportunity but it also has complicated rivalries in the eastern Mediterranean, an area already full of long-standing security issues.Among those to have issued assertive statements of intent regarding undersea gas finds are Greece and Turkey, Cyprus and the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, as well as Israel, the Lebanese militia group Hizbullah and Palestine’s Hamas.

The energy discoveries during last decade have transformed Israel’s energy calculus and caused a significant strategic shift.. In 2012, when Egypt abruptly cancelled natural gas exports to Israel, the country was reliant on imports for 70% of all natural gas used, and on its Arab neighbour alone for 40% of its supply. But the Tamar and Dalit fields alone hold enough natural gas to supply all the country’s needs for two decades. When combined with Leviathan, Israel could meet all of its electricity needs and export gas.

<img source="https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTLjJH9WkBHGdIjtOeanrJn4-Zb7U01_vLJdgXVwbsZ4EOp4xjs" alt="triangle."</img>


EU in Turmoil and not only in Financial One

July 8, 2012

The two dominating trends among EU leaders are to cut losses of players in virtual economy at the expense of taxpayers and to guide EU towards strict federation at the expense of democracy.

(Ari Rusila)

The financial crisis has been in headlines already few years. Despite continuous emergency meetings between EU and especially Eurozone countries no light can be seen for better future. Despite more and more ”effective” measures the markets are not satisfied more than few hours or days. In my opinion it is time finally admit that selected strategy to save euro has been disaster – not maybe to banks and speculators but to ordinary citizens at least. It is time to make alternative visions not only for Euro but for whole EU too, time to whistle game out, collect losses and start new game in Day after Euro/EU context.

Today strategic decisions are hard to agree due 27 different circumstances in 27 member-states (and more to come with enlargement). Also “European Monetary Union” is dead as economies inside Eurozone differ too much. It would seem nowadays that the Eurozone leaders have decided to place the region under Martial law. Old principles about democracy, subsidiarity etc are forgotten.

From my viewpoint intervene again and again into something that is not going to work in the long run is the wrong medicine. The two dominating trends among EU leaders are to cut losses of players in virtual economy at the expense of taxpayers and to guide EU towards strict federation at the expense of democracy. Change to this is needed for saving 99 % of people instead saving profits of the rest one per cent.

Grexit best for all

Eurozone countries have tried solve financial crisis in Greece with different measures – such as bailout packets – already few years with about € 320 billion. However this amazing solidarity of Eurozone has not helped average Greek. Instead foreign banks and financial speculators have been beneficiaries of the aid money. The still ruling government in Greece has also decided to invest aid money to new submarines and other military equipments instead the needs of their citizens. Btw as Nato country why Greece does not apply same strategy like Iceland who has outsourced e.g their military air-control to other member-states. Anyway on the bottom line Greece had public debts on 2009 some €300 bn and after aid packets it now has €420 bn . GNP is decreasing so debt problem is coming more difficult to solve every day. Same time the living conditions of average citizens has dropped dramatically and extra loans have not made ground for new entrepreneurship or new export business or helped still existing companies. When unemployment is rising the share of debt compared to GNP doing the same. (See e.g. ”Common Appeal for the Rescue of the Peoples of Europe”  )

Euro-zone, European Central Bank and IMF seem to have only one ultra-liberalist strategy to solve problem – cutting salary, public services and social benefits from ordinary citizens and saving some financial institutions, funds and speculators from bigger losses. But the problem will not be solved with this strategy and the reason is that these financial institutions and speculators have created a virtual financial world ( derivative markets, futures, hedge-funds …) which value is about ten times more than the real economy. I am not an economist but anyway how could this equation be solved with selected strategy.

Grexit now would be best for all. The new currency should be introduced at a one-for-one rate with the euro. But it will soon depreciate by something like 30-50% giving a boost to Greece’s international competitiveness. The government should renominate its debt in the new national currency and make clear its intention to renegotiate the terms of this debt.

Different analysts estimate that the overall debt load continues to grow faster than the economy, then large-scale debt restructuring becomes inevitable. Greece has been in a state of slow motion economic collapse on the scale of past economic collapses such as that of Argentina but so far without the ability to default, devalue and inflate.  It is to be noted that the case of Argentina shows one successful example how to copy in a similar situation.

Strategic miscalculation

“The euro should now be recognized as an experiment that failed”

(Martin Feldstein, an American economist in 2012)

Many economists, mostly from outside Europe, condemned the design of the Euro currency system from the beginning and have since been advocating that Greece (and the other debtor nations) unilaterally leave the Eurozone, which would allow Greece to withdraw simultaneously from the Eurozone and reintroduce its national currency the drachma at a debased rate. However the political will, or fear, has kept Eurozone leaders in their expired visions – current political leaders might be affraid to apply Modern Monetary Theory or post-Keynesian views. The European bailouts are largely about shifting exposure from banks and others, who otherwise are lined up for losses on the sovereign debt they recklessly bought, onto European taxpayers. However I believe that many of them will be either be replaced or finally they have courage to take new appraoach.

There are clear advantages to ridding Europe of the euro. Countries now suffering with debt could return to their national currencies, devalue, and regain competitiveness more easily. They wouldn’t have the same financial safety-net – at Eurozone level – but their freedom would also allow them to chart their own course. The poor outsiders could negotiate debt restructurings and a more fair division of losses would result and same time the rich outsiders could probably put their economies on a stronger growth path by using their money for supporting investments in real economy of their country instead supporting saving efforts of speculator money in virtual economy.

One viewpoint is that the debt should be characterized as odious debt. This definition is famous earlier from cases in South America and Africa uder military dictatorship. For example the Greek documentary Debtocracy examines whether the recent Siemens scandal and uncommercial ECB loans which were conditional on the purchase of military aircraft and submarines are evidence that the loans amount to odious debt and that an audit would result in invalidation of a large amount of the debt. (See more e.g. Liège based NGO Committee for the Abolition of the Third World Debt /CADTM)

EU Scenario: Dissolution, Federation, Confederation, EU Lite …

A lot of English people like the economic advantages, but are happy to keep the frogs and krauts and spics and eye-ties at a healthy distance.”

(One view from U.K. in web)

Now Eurozone as well EU as construction is on the verge of tumbling down. EU bureaucracy is implementing their only truth by trying to guide EU towards federation. Earlier agreements in Maastricht, Barcelona and Lisbon were only soft exercises. Now financial crisis has enabled stronger methods. In March 2011 a new reform of the Stability and Growth Pact was initiated, which provides for automatic penalties and obligations for states in case of breaches of either the deficit or the debt rules. By the end of the year, Germany, France and some other smaller EU countries went a step further and vowed to create a fiscal union across the Eurozone with strict and enforceable fiscal rules and automatic penalties embedded in the EU treaties. (More e.g. Wikipedia).

With the “golden rule” the Stability and Growth Pact, the political choices of national parliaments are limited. Besides killing the democracy the Pact will kill growth too so putting people in misery and dismay. The Pact is new tool for the plundering of the public services and the destruction of social rights in all EU countries.

The best scenario from my point of view could be some kind of EU Lite version. A bit of similar ”privileged partnership” agreement than planed with Turkey. EU Lite should be build simply to EU’s early basics as economical cooperation area including a customs union, the EU tariff band, competition etc linked to idea of the Common Market. EU Lite could also apply a structure of Confederation. Also some kind of fiscal confederation can be shaped. EU Lite could be described also as a political union and there could be some forum for national parliamentarians and party leaders. Federalist intentions, the EU puppet parliament and the most of EU bureaucracy should from my point of view put in litter basket together with high-flown statements and other nonsense.

The investors face normally e.g Interest rate risk, credit (i.e default) risk, volatility risk, structure risk, counter-party credit risk, prepayment risk, general market risk, liquidity risk, extension risk, transparency risk, political risk, and currency risk and now also with Euro a dissolution risk. As said this is normal and because of those risks also the profits are huge. But the basic principle in is that with investments and not to speak even speculations there is two sides – wins and losses. In my opinion the loss should no more be paid by taxpayers.

Many – still non-member – Balkan countries, Turkey and one disputed region (Kosovo) have some vision about EU association. While considering this in my opinion three aspects should be highlighted:

Why to join? Due the needs of people or due the needs of Brussels or elite?

When related to time-line? Association process is long and circumstances are changing, after EU/Eurozone crisis who know what kind of EU if any still exists, same time other regional and global power-centers are rising and options should be open.

Where? Now it is open question if country is joining in future to strict federation with martial law, to some sub-category of loose federation, confederation, open discussion forum or free trade zone only.

After this the forth question – how – is the easy one. (More this with example of Serbia in Serbia’s EU association is not a Must )

My bottom line

With today’s strategy there is a risk that the combination of economic insecurity and political paralysis has been recipe for an increase in extremism and xenophobia. It is slow motion death spiral of economic collapse. That is the base to my view that people should be the first priority and not virtual economy, fiscal system, euro or even EU.

I would like to see following principles – related to current Eurozone crisis – to came again to agenda:

  • People first system after
  • Real economy instead of virtual economy
  • Investor risk instead of taxpayers risk

As interests even inside Eurozone differ these new principles in my opinion have best change if implemented at national level. So e.g each country could nationalize their bankrupting banks, each country could start implement Toby’n (or transaction) tax by national decisions. And when different countries find common interests so new formations, forums and cooperation can be established.


FW: Common Appeal for the Rescue of the Peoples of Europe

October 11, 2011

Attached below please find an appeal related to ongoing financial, social and political crisis. Appeal is created by Mikis Theodorakis and Manolis Glezos in order to addressed to personalities and intellectuals in your countries.

Common Appeal for the Rescue of the Peoples of Europe

65 years after the defeat of nazism and fascism, European people are today confronting a dramatic threat, this time not military, but a financial, social and political one.

A new “Empire of Money” has been systematically attacking one European country after another in the last 18 months, without facing any substancial resistance.

European governments not only fail to organize a collective defense of European people against the markets, but, instead, try to “calm” the markets by imposing policies that remind us of the way governments tried to confront nazism in the ’30s. They organize “debt wars” between the peoples of Europe, just like when they were driven from the belle époque to World War 1.

The offensive of the markets initiated a war against Greece, an EU member-state, whose people have played a decisive role in the resistance against barbarity and the liberation of Europe in World War 2. In the beginning, this war was a communicative war, which reminded us of the campaigns against hostile, outcast countries, like Iraq or Yugoslavia. This campaign presented Greece as a country of lazy and corrupted citizens, while attempting to blame the “PIIGS” of Europe and not the international banks for the debt crisis.

Shortly, this offensive evolved into a financial one, which caused the submission of Greece under a status of limited sovereignty and the intervention of the IMF to the internal affairs of the Eurozone.

When they got what they wanted from Greece, the markets targeted the other, smaller or larger countries of the European periphery. The aim is one and common in all cases: The full guarantee of the interests of the banks against the states, the demolition of the European welfare state, which has been a cornerstone of European democracy and culture, the demolition of European states and the submission of the remaining state structures to the new “International of Money”.

The EU, which was presented to its peoples as a means for collective progress and democracy, tends to become the means for terminating prosperity and democracy. It was introduced as a means of resistance to globalization, but the markets wish it to be an instrument of this globalization.

It was introduced to German and other European peoples as a means of peaceful increase of their power and prosperity, but the way that all peoples are abandoned to be the pray of financial markets, destroys the image of Europe and turns the markets into actors of a new financial totalitarianism, into the new bosses of Europe.

We are facing the danger of repeating the financial equivalent of World War 1 and World War 2 in our continent and be dissolved into chaos and decomposition, in favor of an international Empire of Money and Weapons, in the economic epicentre of which lies the power of the markets.

The peoples of Europe and the world are facing a historically unprecedented concentration of financial but also political and media power by the international financial capital, ie by a handful of financial institutes, rating agencies and a political and media class redeemed by them, with more centers outside, than inside Europe. These are the markets that attack today in one European country after another, using the leverage of debt to demolish the European welfare state and democracy.

The “Empire of Money” now requires a fast, violent, brutal transformation of a Eurozone country, Greece, into a country of the third world, with a so-called program of rescue“, in fact therescue” of banks who lent the country. In Greece, the alliance of banks and the political leaderships imposed -through the EU, the ECB and the IMF a program that equals to to “economic and social murder” of the country and its democracy, and organizes the looting of the country before the bankruptcy to which it leads, wishing to make it the scapegoat of the global financial crisis and use it as a “paradigm” to terrorize all European peoples.

The policy that is currently conducted in Greece and attempts to spread, is the same applied in Pinochet’s Chile, Yeltsin’s Russia or Argentina and will have the same results, if not discontinued immediately. As a result of a program that supposedly intended to help the country, Greece isnow on the verge of economic and social disaster; it is used as a guinea pig to study people’s reactions to social Darwinism and terrify the entire European Union, with what can happen to one of its members.

The markets may also be pushing and using the leadership of Germany in actions of destruction of the European Union. But it constitutes an act of extreme political and historical blindness for the dominant forces of the EU and first of all, for Germany, to think that there can be any project of European integration or even simple cooperation, on the ruins of one or more members of the Eurozone.


The planned demolition of major,
globally significant political and social achievements of the European peoples, can not establish any kind of European Union. It will lead to chaos and disintegration and it will promote the emergence of fascist solutions in our continent.

In 2008 private banking giants of Wall Street forced the states and state banks to bail them out of the crisis they themselves created, by paying with the taxpayers’ money the cost of their enormous fraud, such as mortgages, but also the operational cost of an unregulated casino-capitalism, imposed in the last twenty years. They turned their own crisis into a public debt crisis.


Now
they are using the crisis and debt, which they themselves created, to deprive the states and the citizens of the few powers they still hold.

This is one part of the debt crisis. The other is that financial capital, together with the political forces supporting it globally, imposed an agenda of neoliberal globalization, which inevitably leads to the relocation of production outside Europe and the downward convergence of social and ecological standards of Europe with those of the Third World. For many years they hid this process behind loans, but now they use the loans to completeit.

The “International of Money”, thatwishes to eliminate any notion of state in Europe, threatens Greece today, Italy or Portugal tomorrow; it encourages the confrontation among European peoples and puts the European Union before the dilemma whether to transform into a dictatorship of the markets or to dissolve. It aims at making Europe and the world to regress in a state like the one before 1945, or even before the French Revolution and the Enlightenment.

In ancient times, the abolition, by Solon, of the debts which forced the poor to be slaves of the rich, the so-called Seisachtheia reform, laid the foundations for the birth, in ancient Greece, of the ideas of democracy, citizenship, politcs and Europe, the foundations of European and world culture.


Struggling against the class of wealth, the citizens of Athens led the way in the constitution of Pericles and the political philosophy of Protagoras, who declared that “Man is the measure above all money”.

Today, the wealthy classes are attempting to avenge ths spirit of man: “The markets are the measure above all men”is the motto that our political leaderships willingly embrace, in alliance with the devil of money, as Faust did.

A handful of international banks, rating agencies, investment funds, a global concentration of financial capital without historical precedent, claims power in Europe and the world and prepares to abolish the states and our democracy, using the weapon of debt to enslave the peoples of Europe, putting in place of the incomplete democracy we have, the dictatorship of Money and Banks; the power of a totalitarian empire of globalization, the political center of which is outside continental Europe, despite the presence of powerful European banks at the heart of the empire.

They started from Greece, using it as a guinea pig, to move then to the other countries of the European periphery, and gradually to the center. The hope of some European countries to eventually escape, just proves that today’s European leaders face the threat of a new “financial fascism”, not better than the way they faced the threat of Hitler during the inter-war period.


It is not by accident that a big part of the media controlled by bankers chose to attack against the European periphery, by naming these countries as “pigs”, and also turned to a contemptuous, sadistic, racist campaign of the media they own, not only against the Greeks, but against the ancient Greek heritage and the ancient Greek civilization. This choice shows the deeper, underlying goals of the ideology and the values of financial capital, which promotes capitalism of destruction.

The attemptof a part of the German media to humiliate symbols such as the Acropolis or the Venus de Milo, monuments which were respected even by Hitler’s officers, is nothing but an expression of the deep disdain of bankers, who control these media, not so much against the Greeks, but mainlyagainst the ideas of freedom and democracy, which were born in this country.

The financial monster produced four decades of tax exemption for the capital, all kinds of “market liberalization”, widespread deregulation, abolition ofall barriers to the flows of capital and commodities, constant attacks against the state, massive acquisition of political parties and media, ownership of the global surplus from a handful of vampire-banks of Wall Street. Now, this monster, a true “state behind the States”, is revealed claiming the completion of the financial and political “permanent coup d’ etat“, carried out for over than four decades.

Facing this attack, the political forces of the European right-wing and social democracy seem compromised after decades of “entryism” by financial capital, the most important centersof which are non-European. On the other hand, trade-unions and social movements are still not strong enough to block this attack decisively, like they repeatedly did in the past. The new financial totalitarianism seeks to take advantage of this situation, in order to impose finite, irreversible conditions across Europe.

There is an urgent need for an immediate, cross-border coordination of action by intellectuals, people of the arts and literature, spontaneous movements, social forces and personalities who comprehend the importance of the stakes; we need to create a powerful front of resistance against the advancing “totalitarian empire of globalization”, before it is too late.

Europe can survive only if wepromote a united response against the markets, a challenge bigger than theirs, a new European «New Deal».

We must immediately stop the attack against Greece and other countries of the EU periphery; we must stop the irresponsible and criminal policy of austerity and privatization, which leads directly to a crisis deeper than the one of 1929.

Public debts must be radically restructured across the Eurozone, particularly on the expense of the private banking giants. Banks must be recontrolled and the financing of European economy must be under national and European social control. It is not possible to let the financial keys of Europe in the hands of banks like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, UBS, the Deutsche Bank etc. We must ban the uncontrolled financial derivatives, which are the spearhead of the destructive financial capitalism, and create real economic development, instead of speculative profits.

– The present architecture, based on the Maastricht Treaty and the WTO rules,has established a debt production machine in Europe. We need a radical change of all Treaties, the submission of the ECB under political control by the European peoples, a “goldenrule” for minimum social, fiscal, environmental standards in Europe. We urgently need a change of paradigm; a return to the stimulation of growth through the stimulation of demand, via new European investment programs, a new regulation, taxation and control of international capital and commodities flows; a new form of smart and reasonable protectionism in an independent Europe, which will be the protagonist in the fight for a multipolar, democratic, ecological, social planet.

We appeal to the forces and individuals who share these ideas, to converge into a broad, European front of action as soon as possible; to produce a European transitional program, to coordinate our international action, so as to mobilize the forces of the popular movement, to reverse the current balance of power and overthrow the current historically irresponsible leaderships of our countries, in order to save our people and our societies before it is too late for Europe.

Athens, October 2011

Mikis Theodorakis

Manolis Glezos


Freedom 2010 in Balkans and Eastwards

May 1, 2010

“Freedom of the press, freedom of association, the inviolability of domicile, and all the rest of the rights of man are respected so long as no one tries to use them against the privileged class. On the day they are launched against the privileged they are overthrown.” (Prince Peter Kropotkin)

diagram by David Nolan

diagram by David Nolan

Different aspects of freedom are globally fundamental value of human rights, civil liberties or human development in general. Human development has been described in UNDP as “a process of enlarging people’s choices”. This in turn requires the freedom of people to make their choices and the opportunities to realize them. Rankings or ratings are one kind of (process) benchmarking in which organizations or in this case states evaluate various aspects of their processes in relation to best practice.

In this article I make a short update about political rights and civil liberties, freedom of press and some economical aspects in mostly Balkans and Black Sea regions. As sources (described next paragraph) I have used last reports available. Besides regions mentioned I have included to table also top and worst scores, U.S. as old superpower and BRIC countries as rising superpowers.

Sources of this story:

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is is the UN’s global development network. Since 1990, annual Human Development Reports have explored challenges including poverty, gender, democracy, human rights, cultural liberty, globalization, water scarcity and climate change. The Human Development Index (HDI)Table HDR 2009 measures the average achievements in a country in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living. More: UNDP http://hdr.undp.org/en/

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports the expansion of freedom around the world. Freedom House supports democratic change, monitors freedom, and advocates for democracy and human rights. Founded in 1941 by prominent Americans organization’s viewpoint is mostly Anglo-American. Freedom House has been publishing its Freedom in the World reports since 1972 and it publishes also Freedom in the Press report since 1980. More: Freedom House

Founded in 1973, The Heritage Foundation is a research and educational institution—a think tank—whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense. Together with The Wall Street Journal they publish e.g. “Economic freedom index”. More: The Heritage Foundation.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is an independent, international organization incorporated as a Swiss not-for-profit foundation. WEF believes that economic progress without social development is not sustainable, while social development without economic progress is not feasible. WEF aims to be: the foremost organization which builds and energizes leading global communities; the creative force shaping global, regional and industry strategies; the catalyst of choice for its communities when undertaking global initiatives to improve the state of the world. WEF defines competitiveness as the set of institutions, policies, and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country. World Economic Forum has published “The Global Competitiveness Report 2009-2010” which gives an other viewpoint to economic freedom.

Reporters Without Borders is registered in France as a non-profit organisation and has consultant status at the United Nations. Reporters Without Borders is present in all five continents through its national branches. Reporters Without Borders: defends journalists and media assistants imprisoned or persecuted for doing their job, fights against censorship, gives financial aid to journalists in difficulty and works to improve the safety of journalists, especially those reporting in war zones. Reporters Without Borders has fought for press freedom on a daily basis since it was founded in 1985.

Summary table of Freedom in Balkans, Black Sea and some comparison data

(Note: the order below is made according UNDP’s “Human development index”, in other categories order can be checked from ranks)

Human development index

(UNDP)

Freedom Status

(Freedom House) Political Rights/ Civil Liberties

Economic Freedom (WSJ/THF) & Competitiveness (WEB) Press Freedom (Reporters w. borders/Freedom House)
Rank

(↑..↓

2006)

Country ///

Name & Score

P R C L Status HF/WSJ Rank/Scr

WEB Rank/

Trend

RWB

Rank/ Score

FH Rank
1. Norway (0.971) 1 1 Free 37./69.4 14 +

1./0,00

1
13. ↓ U.S.A. (0.956) 1 1 Free 8./78.0 2 – 20./4.00 24
25. Greece (0.942) 1 2 Free 73./62.7 71 — 35./ 9,00 29
29. Slovenia (0.929) 1 1 Free 61./64.7 37 ++ 37./ 9,50 25
45. Croatia (0.871) 1 2 Free 92./59.2 72 — 78./ 17,17 85
61. ↓ Bulgaria (0.840) 2 2 Free 75./62.3 76 68./15,61 76
63. ↑ Romania (0.837) 2 2 Free 63./64.2 64 + 50./12,50 88
65. Montenegro (0.834) 3 2 Free 68./ 63.6 62 + 77./17,00 80
67. Serbia (0.826) 2 2 Free 104./56.9 93 — 62./ 15,50 78
70. Albania (0.818) 3 3 Partly Free 53./66.0 96 + 82./21,75 102
71. ↑ Russia (0.817) 6 5 Not Free 143./50.3 63 – 153./60,88 175
72. Macedonia FYR (0.817) 3 3 Partly Free 56./65.7 84 + 34./ 8,75 94
75. Brazil (0.813) 2 2 Free 113./ 55.6 56 ++ 71./15,88 88
76. Bosnia-Herzegovina (0.812) 4 3 Partly Free 110./56.2 109 – 39./ 10,50 97
79. ↓ Turkey (0.806) 3 3 Partly Free 67./63.8 61 + 122./ 38,25 106
NA Kosovo (under UN 1244) 5 4 Partly Free NA NA 75./ 16,58 108
84. ↑ Armenia (0.798) 6 4 Partly Free 38./69.2 97 111./31,13 146
85. ↓ Ukraine (0.796) 3 2 Free 162./46.4 82 — 89./ 22,00 108
86. ↑ Azerbaijan (0.787) 6 5 Not Free 96./58.8 51 + 146./53,50 172
88. ↓ Iran (0.782) 6 6 Not Free 168./43.4 NA 172./104,14 187
89. ↑ Georgia (0.778) 4 4 Partly Free 26./70.4 90 81./18,83 126
92. ↑ China (0.772) 7 6 Not Free 140./51.0 29 + 168./84,50 181
117. Moldova (0.720) 3 4 Partly Free 125./53.7 NA 114./33,75 144
134. India (0.612) 2 3 Free 124./53.8 49 + 105./29,33 72
182. Niger (0.340) 5 4 Partly Free 129./52.9 NA 139./ 48,50 151

Full reports and country analysis from each category can be found from related organizations – see sources above.

Some remarks

UNDP’s methodology includes besides data collection a serial of background seminars and regional and thematic events. Due heavy preparation process the report 2009 is based to oldest data mostly from years 2006-2008. The UNDP 2010 report will launch around the world this autumn and will have three parts. First, a systematic assessment of progress and setbacks in human development since the 1970s, in which we discuss what has been achieved, what seems to work, and what are the key gaps and constraints. The second part will revisit the concept of human development – and its measurement (including the Human Development Index) – and propose the enhancements needed to help policy-makers ensure that people are at the centre of development. In this light, the third and final part would highlight concrete implications for policy and development strategies, and outline recommendations for a new development agenda.

Freedom House’s report “Freedom in the World 2010” reflects developments that took place in the calendar year 2009. The full survey, including the individual country reports, will be available in late spring 2010. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions and 15 civil liberties questions. The political rights questions are grouped into three subcategories: Electoral Process (3 questions), Political Pluralism and Participation (4), and Functioning of Government (3). The civil liberties questions are grouped into four subcategories: Freedom of Expression and Belief (4 questions), Associational and Organizational Rights (3), Rule of Law (4), and Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights (4).

Related to some disputed regions Freedom House ranks status of Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh as Partly Free, but South Ossetia and Transdnistria as Not Free.

WEF defines competitiveness as the set of institutions, policies, and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country. The level of productivity, in turn, sets the sustainable level of prosperity that can be earned by an economy. In other words, more-competitive economies tend to be able to produce higher levels of income for their citizens. The productivity level also determines the rates of return obtained by investments in an economy.

Freedom House’s examination of the level of press freedom in each country currently comprises 23 methodology questions and 109 indicators divided into three broad categories: the legal environment, the political environment, and the economic environment. The 2010 report did note some changes in the region that includes Western Balkan countries. Improvements were noted in several countries, including Bulgaria and Ukraine, primarily due to fewer cases of physical attacks and harassment, as well as greater editorial and ownership diversity. Meanwhile, Armenia and Moldova both saw numerical gains as a result of reduced censorship and restrictions on news coverage. The score improvement for Serbia in 2009 reflected the fact that Kosovo was scored separately for the first time in this edition of the survey. Croatia’s score “fell from 38 to 40 due to the removal of and legal action against journalists covering war crimes, organized crime, and corruption. There was also less diversity due to rising concentration of private media ownership.”

Because freedom is so highly valued factor, there is constant debate over exactly what the word means. Disputes are often politically charged, and they are not likely ever to be completely resolved. James P.Young summarizes following:

Analysis of the idea is also complicated because it is impossible to consider freedom without taking into account related concepts such as democracy and constitutionalism, problems such as majority rule and minority rights, and the tension between liberty and equality. The American Declaration of Independence represents one of the climactic moments in the long development of the idea of freedom and arguably achieves universality, despite having grown out of the specific revolutionary situation in the colonies. Yet throughout their history, Americans have argued about how the principles found in the Declaration should be applied. For example, does the right to life rule out the death penalty?

(More e.g. in “A Short Historical Sketch on the Idea of Freedom” by James P. Young)

The bottom line

Democracy is a form of government that cannot long survive, for as soon as the people learn that they have a voice in the fiscal policies of the government, they will move to vote for themselves all the money in the treasury, and bankrupt the nation.”(Karl Marx)

While comparing different data it seems that there is some conflict between economic freedom and especially competitiveness and other political rights, civil liberties and press freedom. It remains to be seen whether present global and regional financial turmoil and environmental challenges will change the balance one way or the other.

We must plan for freedom, and not only for security, if for no other reason than only freedom can make security more secure.”(Sir Karl Popper)

Related articles:

Balkans and Failed States Index (Jan. 2009/failed state index based on social, economical and political inducators)

Competitiveness of Balkans (Oct. 2008)

Freedom in Balkans (Jan. 2009/political rights and civil liberties. Democracy, economy, poverty, movement)


Freedom in Balkans

January 18, 2009

Different aspects of freedom are fundamental value of human rights in Balkans as well globally. While starting of a year it’s good time to check the near past and make some benchmarking. Rankings or ratings are one kind of (process) benchmarking in which organizations or in this case states evaluate various aspects of their processes in relation to best practice.

In 1st part of my “Freedom in Balkans” serial I make a short update about political rights and civil liberties.

Part 1 – Political Rights and Civil liberties

In my article “Freedom in Balkans” On September 2008 I wrote about the freedom ratings with political rights, civil liberties, religious and press freedom in Balkans. Now Freedom House released the findings from the latest edition of Freedom in the World 2009, the annual survey of global political rights and civil liberties.The ratings reflect an overall judgment based on survey results and global events from Jan. 1st through Dec. 31st 2008.  In my earlier article I had one year older survey.  

The survey a year ago showed that only Kosovo province (as UN protectorate) fell to category not free;Albania, Macedonia (FRY), Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro were partly free category and Serbia, Romania, Croatia, Bulgaria and Slovenia were in the best free category.

The situation remained the same during year 2008 so no state changed category.Inside the category occurred following two changes:

  • Bulgaria’s political rights rating declined from 1 to 2 (1 represents the most free and 7 the least free rating) due to backsliding in the government’s efforts to combat corruption and organized crime, which prompted the European Union to suspend substantial aid payments in July.
  • Macedonia had a downward trend –without number decline – due to increased harassment of and violence against political party members during the country’s June parliamentary elections, which domestic and international observers deemed the worst since independence.

So nothing radical happened during last year. The only peculiarity still is the result of Kosovo which is ranked as ‘not free’ and received scores the same as Sudan, Chad and Egypt in terms of political rights and civil liberties despite the fact that international community has been building democratic standards and human rights in its protectorate now over eight years.  If the result is this I hope that new EULEX mission will apply some lessons learned in this case.

More about methodology and global results from web sites of Freedom House.

Part 2 – Democracy

World Audit Org has been conducting sc. Democracy Audit since 1997.Their survey is concerned only with the criteria of democracy – which they hold to be Human Rights; Political Rights; Free Speech and Absence of Corruption. 150 nations, all those with populations in excess of one million are included.  Related to 1st part of my article serial Freedom in Balkans Democracy Audit gives an other point of view to the same topic.

World Audit brings together statistics and reports from respected agencies such as Freedom House, Transparency International, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and The International Commission of Jurists. From their work and data WorldAudit.Org present and update the World Democracy Audit.

With this background it is understandable that the results are quite comparable with those in my earlier articles – Part 1 and its earlier more comprehensive version .

As source I have used latest Democracy Audit of WorldAudit.Org.  From there I have selected following countries:

  • Balkan states
  • Top 3 and Worst 3 in the world
  • U.S. as old superpower
  • BRIC countries as rising superpowers

And here is the table (more compact version here)

Country/

Rank

Democracy

Press Freedom

Corruption

Overall Category

Denmark

1

2

1

1

Sweden

2

4

1

1

Finland

3

1

5

1

United States

15

14

15

1

Slovenia

19

28

21

1

Bulgaria

36

45

56

2

Croatia

45

47

47

3

India

48

46

67

3

Serbia

50

50

67

3

Romania

52

59

54

3

Brazil

53

56

62

3

Macedonia

59

65

56

3

Albania

64

70

67

3

Bosnia and Herzegovina

81

62

73

4

China

120

138

56

4

Russia

133

127

117

4

Uzbekistan

147

144

136

4

Turkmenistan

149

148

136

4

Myanmar

150

149

147

4

In Balkans Slovenia is again on its own top class, Bosnia-Herzegovina is in the last shake of the bag – alone because disputed territories such as Kosovo were not included. The rest of the Balkan countries are between them. Of course one should remember limitations like overvaluation of western perspective with these kind of surveys but anyway from my point of view these survyes are good tools for benchmarking, future planning and debate.

Part 3: Economy

Economic freedom is highly valued element especially in U.S. society and its imitators.Conservative politics claims that greater economic freedom generates opportunities for people, creates wealth and respect for human rights.In Nordic countries the approach is different and the economic freedom of one individual – human or company – can be limited if it limits other peoples freedom.However this study is based to traditional American conservative formula and everybody can value the output against that background.

The Heritage Foundation is a research and educational institute – a think tank – whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defence.For over a decade this Washington’s preeminent think tank has tracked economic freedom around the world with its main publication The Index of Economic Freedom.

The Heritage Foundation defines economic freedom as follows:

The highest form of economic freedom provides an absolute right of property ownership, fully realized freedoms of movement for labour, capital, and goods, and an absolute absence of coercion or constraint of economic liberty beyond the extent necessary for citizens to protect and maintain liberty itself. In other words, individuals are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they please, and that freedom is both protected by the state and unconstrained by the state.

The 2009 Index of Economic Freedom covers 183 countries and measures 10 separate components of economic freedom.To table below I have picked the Balkan countries and their scores with each of those measures and the picture is following:

Name

World Rank

O-   ver- all  Sco-   re

Busi- ness Free- dom

Tra-   de Free- dom

Fis-  cal Free- dom

Go- vern- ment Size

Mone- tary Free- dom

In-   vest- ment Free- dom

Fi-    nan-  cial Free- dom

Pro- perty Ri-    ghts

Free- dom From Cor-  rup- tion

La-   bour Free- dom

Albania

62

63.7

67.0

75.8

92.8

75.6

79.6

70.0

70.0

30.0

29.0

47.2

Bosnia -Herze-govina

134

53.1

59.9

77.2

71.8

37.6

79.0

50.0

60.0

10.0

33.0

52.2

Bulgaria

56

64.6

73.5

85.8

86.2

58.7

72.8

60.0

60.0

30.0

41.0

78.4

Croatia

116

55.1

59.9

87.6

68.7

31.7

79.0

50.0

60.0

30.0

41.0

43.4

Greece

81

60.8

78.7

80.8

66.5

46.3

78.8

50.0

50.0

50.0

46.0

61.2

Macedo- nia FRY

78

61.2

58.2

81.6

89.4

65.1

85.4

50.0

60.0

30.0

33.0

59.8

Monte- negro

94

58.2

68.7

80.2

89.1

45.3

78.9

40.0

50.0

40.0

33.0

57.2

Romania

65

63.2

74.9

85.8

87.0

70.0

75.0

60.0

50.0

35.0

37.0

57.1

Serbia

109

56.6

56.0

78.0

85.9

46.3

65.8

40.0

50.0

40.0

34.0

70.0

Slovenia

68

62.9

84.4

85.8

62.9

38.4

78.6

60.0

50.0

60.0

66.0

42.8

If the Overall score were 100-80 the country was defined to be Free, countries with score 79.9-70 were Mostly free, countries with score 69.9-60 Moderately free, countries with score 59.9-50 Mostly unfree and countries with score between 49.9-0 were defined as Repressed.So according The 2009 Index of Economic FreedomAlbania, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania and Slovenia were Moderately free and the rest of Balkan countries were Mostly unfree.

Last autumn I wrote about competitiveness of Balkans referring “ Global Economic Competitiveness Report 2008-2009” of The World Economic Forum, which approaches economic freedom a bit wider angle. Their measures include e.g. health, education, public and private institutions, infrastructure and innovations so perspective is a bit more social than that of hard line conservatives. Anyway in report mentioned Slovenia was ranked as the most competitive economy in the Balkans with rank 42 out of 134 countries polled followed Croatia (61), Greece (67), Romania (68), Bulgaria (76), Serbia (85), Macedonia (89), Bosnia-Herzegovina (107) and Albania (108).

If compared the order between economic freedom and competitiveness the biggest difference are ranks of Croatia and Albania – almost opposite positions – so one could say that free economy does not necessary create high competitiveness and mostly unfree economy can sometimes be very competitive.

Part 4 – Poverty

Poverty stricken Bosnian Muslims search a garbage dump near their village of Visca.  The extreme winter low temperatures force people who live in poverty to resort to desperate measures to scrape a living Poverty stricken Bosnian Muslims search a garbage dump near their village of Visca. The extreme winter low temperatures force people who live in poverty to resort to desperate measures to scrape a living.

One can dispute which level of economic freedom can increase or decrease common welfare for all population but the fact is that poverty sure limits individuals political and human rights as well use of civil liberties.”Poverty” defined as an economic condition of lacking both money and basic necessities needed to successfully live, such as food, water, education, health care or shelter.The table lists countries by the percentage of the population living below the national poverty line — the poverty line deemed appropriate for a country by its authorities.

While studying poverty in Balkans I have used as source UNDP report accessed on Feb. 3rd 2008 and CIA’s The World Factbook, updated on July 24th 2008.  From there I have picked Balkan countries and Kosovo province figures and the outcome is here:

Country

UNDP

CIA

Year

Other

Year

Albania 25.4 25 2004 est. 25 2002
Bosnia-Herzegovina 19.5 25 2004 est. 20 2002
Bulgaria 12.8 14.1 2003 est. 13 2001
Croatia N/A 11 2003 N/A N/A
Macedonia FRY 21.7 29.8 2006 29.4 2007
Montenegro N/A 7 2007 est. N/A N/A
Romania 21.5 25 2005 est. N/A N/A
Serbia N/A 6.5 2007 est. N/A N/A
Province of Kosovo N/A 37 2007 est. N/A N/A
Slovenia N/A 12.9 2004 N/A N/A

National estimates are based on population-weighted subgroup estimates from household surveys. Definitions of the poverty line may vary considerably among nations. Thus, the numbers are not strictly comparable among countries.  However one could size up that poverty is serious problem in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Romania and Kosovo province (UNSC 1244 protectorate).

World of powerty

Bigger image from link

Part 5: Movement

Freedom of movement including traveling abroad or in one’s own country and selecting locations to live has also its own limitations in Balkans. If we exclude such restrictive factors as money, handicaps or imprisonment I could find three main categories for limited freedom of movement in Balkans. They are

  • Restricted moving back to original dwelling place
  • Restricted moving out from place of residence
  • Traveling abroad

Refugees and IDPs

This theme is of paramount importance in Balkans. Beginning 1991, political upheavals – such as the breakup of Yugoslavia – displaced millions of people. Officially one part of these people are refugees meaning that they have escaped to other country, one part is “internally displaced persons” (IDPs) meaning that they have escaped from their home village/-town but still are in the same country than before.

Movements

This kind of restricted moving back to original dwelling place is still – 10-16 years after Balkan Wars – biggest problem in Serbia with 326,853 refugees and IDPs. Bosnia-Herzegovina has 146,586 mostly IDPs, Greece 30,799 (mostly asylum seekers), Montenegro 24,822, Bulgaria 5,848, Croatia 7,826, Slovenia 4,408 (mostly stateless persons), Macedonia (FYR) 2,397, Romania 2,180 and Albania 101 (situation 31st March 2008).(Source UNCHR statistics 3rd June 2008).

From this link you can have full-scale of figure above.

Restricted moving out from place of residence

Limited moving out from home in one’s own country is usually not restricted by law or regulations – the limitations are real or fancied fears in one’s head. In Balkans this problem occurs most in Kosovo province.Albanians in Kosovo’s middle and southern parts are not familiar to travel northern Kosovo, Serbs in their enclaves are afraid to go outside of their enclave.

Outside Kosovo this kind of fears are in smaller scale and they maybe occur only when ethnic tensions for some reasons are rising e.g. between Croats and Bosnian Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina, between Albanians and Macedonians in Macedonia (FYROM) etc.

Travelling abroad

To travel from one country to other is a fundamental freedom restricted however more or less depending about which passport the traveller holds.Visa restrictions play an important role in controlling the movement of foreign nationals across borders. This topic I treated already in my previous article “Visa rank and the western Balkans” and to that I do not have anything new to add now as I do not have any new data available.